Ritu and Priyanka Want You to Experience the Magic of Handcrafted Textiles

What’s your story?
We are a Hong Kong based slow fashion brand with roots in India. Slow fashion is holistic and sustainable. Our brand seamlessly blends Indian traditional textiles with contemporary western fashion. Each piece, curated by our in-house artisans, is a work of art, showcasing the perfect blend of heritage and slow fashion. The Indian subcontinent has a vast tradition of weaving and fabric printing that goes back thousands of years. Our master artisans carry out many laborious processes to produce the fabric for our collections. All of our collections are handmade in the truest sense of the word. With Ritu Priyanka, we give you an opportunity to own a garment which has heritage in every warp and weft.

What excites you most about your industry?
At our core we are creatives, and giving the heritage crafts of our artists a direct platform into the fashion world, excites and motivates us. Our vision is to bring Indian hand loomed creations to the ever evolving world of fashion and to design for the ethically conscious client. Slow fashion, and especially the art of hand loomed textiles, offer design that is close to nature. Each product is inherently unique, influenced by the maker and their environment.

In our industry, we are best at disrupting the age old processes and ideology of fast fashion. Clients are more aware and well versed with the doings of fast fashion. Big fashion players are also under pressure to address the growing demand for sustainable fashion.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Both of us are originally from India, so the connection to Asia runs deep. Our production happens in India and the design and sales office is based in Hong Kong.

Having strong bases in these two countries, we now look forward to venturing further afield to other Asian countries.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong, being a fashion haven as well as a melting pot of cultures and communities, serves as the best location for an up and coming fashion brand to break ground. It’s a place where people truly appreciate art and culture. Attracting tourists and locals alike, Hong Kong gives us good market exposure and helps us to understand who our end clients are. Our vision of modern-traditional designs is a perfect match with Hong Kong’s east-meets-west culture.

 We are constantly expanding our business across Asia. Look for us in Shanghai and Tokyo! 

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
We have had our fair share of ups and downs through this journey. The one thing our mentors and well wishers always told us was to “stay focused and follow your dreams.” It’s easy to stay focused during the highs, but the lows are the testing times, and you need to keep reminding yourself of the bigger picture and the core values of your brand. We also try to take time to enjoy the journey whilst staying true to our vision.

Who inspires you?
We are inspired by the heart and soul of our brand – our Artisans! They inspire us each day through their commitment, their depth of knowledge, and passion for their art form. It amazes us how, over the years, they have learnt the art and treasured it. We appreciate the zeal and zest they show when we ask them to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. And, the happiness and joy they project when we show them the end products made from their fabrics is incredible. It is this infectious energy that is the driving force for our brand.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
We are always looking for different art forms, and it surprises us that there are so many different variations in any given textile art, like weaving, block printing and dyeing. One such hidden gem, from the art of block printing, is “Bagh Printing.” It’s a rare and dying art form which has geographical limitations because the final colour of the print comes from the waters of the Baghini river. Imagine an art form, so intertwined with nature, that the dyes are created from plants, flowers, and roots, and the final colour of the print depends entirely on the chemical properties of the river water. That just blew us away!

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Our journey as entrepreneurs has had its fair share of struggles. We took each challenge as a learning curve and those struggles paved our path to the success we enjoy today. We learnt that there are no shortcuts to achieving goals. But, if we could change anything, we might say that we should have begun ten years ago! Fast fashion has been so detrimental to our planet, we can only hope that slow fashion is able to replace it.  

How do you unwind?
We both like to unwind in our own ways. Ritu is an avid painter, and Priyanka spends a lot of her free time singing. But no matter what we do, we are somehow always connected to art and fashion, even during our leisure time. We love to travel to new locations and always end up connecting with the local culture and their art forms. Reading and watching documentaries is also something we love, as it expands our horizon and always gives us a new point of view. Entertaining and meeting friends also rejuvenates us.  

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Ritu admires the countryside in Kyoto, Japan, cherry blossom season in Tokyo, and the beautiful sea life of Okinawa. It’s really something special, and so close to home!

Priyanka mostly finds herself on the calm beaches of the Philippines. The natural beauty and simple lifestyle of the locals helps her connect to raw nature after living in the bustling city.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage,” by Daniel Paisner and Daymond John.

The authors emphasize how starting a business, when you’re broke (or have limited finances), forces you to think creatively and use your limited resources efficiently. It forces you to be innovative. Even more importantly, Daymond John explains how he has intentionally placed resource constraints on himself, over the years, and how that has helped him make the most of what he has. “The Power of Broke” is just as applicable to first time entrepreneurs as it is to seasoned veterans. This business book will help you scrape, hustle and dream your way to the top.

Shameless plug for your business:
Catch our Spring Summer Giveaway in which participants get to design their own scarf. Copy and paste the link below into your browser for the entry form and details.

https://form.jotform.com/ritupriyanka.hkg/design-your-own-scarf

How can people connect with you?
Instagram: @RituPriyanka_HK
Facebook – @designhkg
Email – [email protected]

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 500 interviews

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Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.

Connect with Callum on Twitter and LinkedIn
Download free copies of his books at www.callumlaing.com